From the Editor

Celebrating this festive season — in our own way


Published: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 29, 2005 at 12:22 p.m.

It’s the season of tradition.

Hanukkah may be far from the most important holiday on the Hebrew religious calendar, but try telling that to a Jewish child come December.

I was one of those children and I'd be lying if I said I didn't grow up with Christmas tree envy. The first scent of spruce in the air inspired a secret longing to string popcorn and hang ornaments while the snow fell soft and white outside. Growing up in South Florida, the fantasy was doubly unlikely.

While we were free to pipe right in on "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," trust me, a tree was never going to happen in our house.

But Hanukkah was ours. We savored all eight days and nights of it, singing songs, spinning our dreidels and lighting colorful candles in our menorah each evening.

Of course, in true child fashion, my brother and I most looked forward to the presents we would receive each night after the lighting of the candles. Eight days' worth of gifts and Hanukkah "gelt" — foil-wrapped chocolate coins. Plus, in our family, there was one unorthodox but very appreciated bonus — more gifts hidden under our parents' bed on Christmas morning. It was made clear to us we weren't actually celebrating Christmas, just one last Hanukkah bonanza.

Like a fingerprint, the traditions of every family are uniquely their own. In this issue of Gainesville Magazine, we share the personal, close-to-the-heart holiday rituals of Gainesvillians as they celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa with their families and friends, neighbors and community. Be prepared to be inspired, amused and tempted by some delightful treats you might not necessarily associate with the season.

Consider this issue a manual of sorts to surviving all the festive bliss. Among the tips you'll find here:

Company dropping by is a joy of this convivial time, but it also creates a bit of anxiety over what to serve. We present some delectable (and easy) appetizers to offer those guests who haven't come to dinner but expect a little something anyway.

And speaking of food, our "Feeling Good" feature this month will arm you against overindulgence with a quick guide to what constitutes a true serving size. (Hint: It's a lot smaller than you think).

Another hazard of the holiday table is the inevitable drop of red wine or gravy that misses its intended destination and comes to rest instead upon your lovely silk blouse or pristine white tablecloth. You'll find some emergency stain treatment options inside.

Choosing holiday gifts should be fun, not stressful. But try remembering that when you've hardly dented your list and you've run out of steam and imagination. Help has arrived, by way of our eight pages of suggestions straight from some of the area's most creative shops. (Your only challenge will be in actually wrapping them up and giving them away.)

It's apt that we have an interview with rock 'n' roll Hall of Famer Tom Petty in this, our holiday issue. He's been gone a long time, but as you'll see, his memory of and love for his Gainesville roots remain as strong as ever — so we're glad to bring him "home for the holidays."

And with that, we want to thank you as always for your kind words and great help with Gainesville Magazine this year — and wish you a joyous, peaceful season, to celebrate in a way most dear to you and your family.

Happy holidays.

COMMENTS? STORY IDEAS? WRITE JACKI LEVINE AT LEVINEJ@GVILLESUN.COM

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